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What can a bedroom say about someone’s personality?

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What can a bedroom say about someone’s personality?

Whichever way we arrange and organize our room can say a lot about us. For most of us, our bedroom is the most personal and intimate space in our homes, a sanctuary. 

Colors and smells can give way to a person’s sensory interests, and little small decorations suggest a person’s taste and personal style. An unkempt room can hint to a disorganized or messy person, while a very neat and clean room can hint to an anal personality.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s acclaimed book Blink, he devotes a section of the book’s first chapter to slicing aspects of a person’s personality just by looking at their private spaces.
He references Samuel Gosling, a personality and social psychologist whose work in social perception examines how people form impressions on others through their behavior, appearance, and physical environment. 

What can a bedroom say about someone’s personality?

Gosling names three variables in a bedroom that gives out clues to a person’s personality: identity claims, behavioral residue, and thoughts and feelings regulators. For example, my organized collection of my favorite books on top of a glass shelf on my wall serves as an identity claim. 

I neatly organize them there not just because they are my favorite books, but also so the people who enter my room can instantly get a good perspective of the things I love or interest me. So an identity claim would be a deliberate expression about how we want to be perceived by others. Then there are my shoes lying around on the floor. Contrary to an identity claim, I don’t leave my shoes scattered around the floor intentionally to be perceived as unorganized. 

It is something that happens inadvertently out of my behavior (most probably because I get home tired and I’m too lazy to neatly stack them in the closet). The small ceramic oil lamps on top of my drawer, and the small bottle of aromatic Myrrh oil, are examples of thoughts/feelings regulators. Objects that affect and change the way I want to feel when I inhabit my room. 

So if a stranger enters my room and takes a look around, he or she will be able to gather certain aspects about my personality just by observation. They may not always be correct, but they can still get a pretty good generalized idea.

This is exactly what Gosling proved on a personality workup experiment of eighty college students. Gosling used a highly respected questionnaire, called the Big Five Inventory, which measures people across five dimensions:

  1. Are you sociable or retiring? Fun loving or reserved?
  2. Are you trusting or suspicious? Helpful or uncooperative?
  3. Are you organized or disorganized? Self-disciplined or weak willed?
  4. Emotional stability. Are you worried or calm? Insecure or secure?
  5. Openness to new experiences. Are you imaginative or down-to-earth? Independent or conforming?

He first had close friends of those eighty college students fill out the questionnaire. Then, he had another group of total strangers who had never met the eighty college students go into their dorm rooms and, along with a clipboard and fifteen minutes to look around, told them to fill out a very similar questionnaire. The results proved that our close friends obviously know us better than strangers, and they can describe us with far much better accuracy. The close friends of the college students calculated their friend’s extraversion and agreeableness way more accurately than the strangers. 

Which makes sense, because you have to personally know somebody in order to make a better judgment of his or her personality. But, surprisingly, the strangers did a far better job than the student’s friends at predicting conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness to new experiences. This demonstrates that it is possible for people who have only known us for a short while, and also by looking around our stuff, to gather a sliced perception of who we might be.

What can a bedroom say about someone’s personality?

This experiment suggests that people can gather certain aspects about a person’s personality just by looking at their private spaces. You can learn things by looking at a person’s bedroom that you might not learn by spending a lot of time with them. Little details like a hidden stash of sleeping pills that suggests trouble with falling asleep, or scattered clothes and trash that suggest a person’s lack of time to clean up or, in a worst case scenario, a slob personality. 

It is also quite common for someone who is going through a hard time to feel incredibly unmotivated and tired to want to clean up his or her room and keep it organized. Or maybe work has been keeping them busy. Consciously or unconsciously, we leave objects in our rooms that affect its layout and condition. Which, in the end, can say a lot about our interests, passions, desires, work, and our psychological state of mind.


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